My Chance to Meet Johan Bruyneel, and This is What I Ask Him

“How did you learn five languages?”

I don’t think this was my most brilliant moment. It was at his talk and book signing for his new book, We Might as Well Win, at Book Passage in Corte Madera. As he signed my copy, he explained that he learned four in school, and then Spanish just came very easily to him. He said once you learn your first second language, the rest are pretty easy.

I didn’t ask him more questions, because there was a line of people behind me, and also because as the words came out of my mouth, I realized it was possibly the silliest question I could have ever asked. I mean, out of all the things.

But you know, you might as well ask.

Well, I confess that I was hoping for a comeback story, like, “I was terrible at learning languages as a child, but I just kept at it, and now I can speak five.”

Maybe there’s more to the story, and he’s just not telling it all, because his story about learning five languages wouldn’t fill up Book Passage in Corte Madera.

It was a full house, but it wasn’t as packed as it was the night Ram Dass was there. I don’t mean this to be a competition, but it’s true. Ram Dass, now he can pack a bookstore.

I liked his talk. He inspired and amazed us with witty anecdotes that at least left this blogger thinking anything’s possible.

You might think that this line of thinking contrasts heavily with the message in my earlier post in which I proclaimed that I’m done with winning, but au contraire. Here he presented winning as a viable option. Do you see the difference? You don’t have to do it, but you can do it.

I much prefer this over the “you should be winning” formula, which implies that if you’re not winning, there’s something wrong with you. 

Bruyneel says his biggest lessons have come from losing.

So what have I learned from losing? That is my question for myself before I retire for the evening, and I shall return to this topic after some deep thought.

Anyone care to add their own thoughts? What are lessons you’ve learned? They could even be in a metaphorical sense. I’m fascinated by the racing-mirrors-life analogy. But then, how do you apply it to your every day life?

Maybe this is a question for Ram Dass.


About katiekelly

I grew up in a parking lot.
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5 Responses to My Chance to Meet Johan Bruyneel, and This is What I Ask Him

  1. ippoc amic says:

    I’m not a Bruyneel fan, but I found his book pretty interesting. At times, it was like a love story( you and me against the world type of theme) and very honest. I agree totally with the cycling is like life analogy.

  2. Julien says:

    Never heard of this author. Now I’m looking forward to reading one of his books!

  3. Tom Kravitz says:

    What did I learn from loosing (outside of racing) ask any person who has been divorced and lived through it. “You can only doi what you can do” , then life goes on.

  4. Russ says:

    I read your post on winning and it stayed with me…not exactly sure why but after a particularly hard week of racing last week I now believe the “you should be winning and there is something wrong with you if you’re not” line of thought is pretty f*cked up. I mean on any given day only one can win and what does that mean for the ten, twenty, fifty or hundreds of others? Do they all suck? No way…at least not in my view. I think racing at any level can have many different types of goals and the only one that can set them and judge them, really, is the person who pins on the number and clips in, clearly my opinion here. Of course we all are judged by “how” we win or loose and did we do it with honor and grace or with flatulence and barbarism. So, we all want to win, and want you to win too I bet, but the value of loosing, in my opinion, is the measurement…meaning if you win it becomes perfect a second later and you may move on without really taking a hard look at it…with loosing you know where you are and can understand the gaps between you and those that are doing better and that is a direct line to improvement. I respect those that race in harder and harder categories as any illusions one might have are quickly and violently removed and you simply have the raw facts of your performance. I thought Jens Voigt summed it up pretty nicely when he said something to the effect…”what kind of athlete am I if I know at the start line that I will not win and I will not try…I can’t race that way I have to at least try”…I liked the message in that. Cheers.

  5. katiekelly says:

    Thanks for writing Russ. I like the message, too.

    Update! At the Spring Hill Road Race last Sunday, I finished 2nd in the Women’s 3 race. And my friend Emily, who earlier commented on the same post, saying that she’s never won a race, and probably never will, won.

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